In the aftermath of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School the National Rifle Association made its page on Facebook go dark for several days. When they reactivated it announcing a planned press conference on 21 December, a hoard of their far-rightwing supporters flooded their page with all sorts of incendiary comments and praise, offering a glimpse into the types of ideas that lie at the center of much gun culture in the United States.
Some comments appeared to be written by Benton County, Arkansas Sheriff Deputy Chuck Wells. Wells posted at least three comments, one of which he addressed to Obama, saying: “Obama and his followers are nothing but camel dung, I say you want our guns???? Come and get them. Make sure your life insurance is paid up…..” (emphasis added). Another comment warned: “If the NRA does back down, trust me, there are others who won’t….”. The third announced his membership in the NRA, saying: ”PROUD MEMBER OF THE NRA!!!!!!!!”
Below are images of Wells’ posts, and, to help confirm his identity, Wells’ profile picture, a media picture of him from a police training exercise, and images of Benton County insignia which match the uniform he is wearing in his picture. Also included is information for contacting Benton County Sheriff Keith Ferguson should you wish to report this incident.
For readers who have been following the increased militarisation and belligerence of the rightwing, these sort of comments will come as no surprise. If you are unfamiliar with these developments, see the 2009 U.S. Department of Homeland Security report “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment“, and browse reports from the Southern Poverty Law Center’s quarterly magazine Intelligence Report from the past 5-7 years. Far-right militias, hate groups, and attacks have increased sharply since the beginning of the Great Recession and in the aftermath of the election of President Barack Obama. Whatever one’s opinion is on increased gun regulation, the rightwing response to every mass shooting and rightwing terrorist attack (such as the 2011 attack on an MLK Jr. Day march), provides a scary glimpse into culture of violence that exists in the United States. These comments also provide one snapshot of the racist and violent consciousness held by many cops.
It is revolting to hear these sorts of comments in the wake of a horrible tragedy where 28 people, including 20 children and several teachers were killed. But in a society where more than 2 million people are under the control and detention of the criminal injustice system, including around a million African Americans, little but racist threats and violence can be expected from the police.
To contact the Benton County Sheriff’s Office:
1300 SW 14th St Bentonville Arkansas 72712
County Sheriff Keith Ferguson email@example.com
To contact the Benton County Sheriff’s Office:
1300 SW 14th St Bentonville Arkansas 72712
County Sheriff Keith Ferguson firstname.lastname@example.org
Statement Against the U.S.-Israeli War on Gaza
14 November 2012
As we meet today the state of Israel, funded to the tune of $3 billion U.S. tax dollars worth of military equipment and aid per year, is engaging in a military assault on Gaza City, Palestine, a civilian city with almost a million residents. At the time we penned this statement, at least 15 people had been killed as a result of the assault, including a one-month old toddler and a seven-year-old girl, and over a 100 people had been wounded. The number of dead and wounded is expected to rise if this war is allowed to continue.
The End the New Jim Crow! Action Network (E.N.J.A.N) stands with the Palestinian people in their struggle against war and occupation, and makes the connection between the struggle of the people in Gaza – which M.I.T. professor Noam Chomsky called the “world’s largest open air prison” during his recent trip there – and the struggle of people in the United States fighting the world’s largest prison system.
The U.S. system of mass incarceration directly restricts the movement and liberty of over 2 million people, including over a million African Americans, just as Israel’s occupation restricts the movement and liberty of all Palestinians. It is the same racist system that harasses people of color on the streets of U.S. cities, and whose police and racist vigilantes murdered at least 120 Black people in the first six months of this year. As a network we oppose all forms of racism, including anti-Black racism, Islamophobia, and anti-Semitism, and we make common cause with all those around the world who do the same.
As an organization we demand societal resources be shifted towards jobs, housing, healthcare, and education, both at home and abroad, and away from prisons, war, and occupation.
End the U.S.-Israeli War on Gaza!
And End the New Jim Crow Now!
The End the New Jim Crow! Action Network (E.N.J.A.N.)
Campaign Against Mass Incarceration
Meetings are on the 2nd and 4th Wednesday of the month at the Sadie Peterson Delaney African Roots Library, on the second floor, in the Family Partnership Center, 29 North Hamilton St, Suite 218, Poughkeepsie, New York 12601
“It appears to general observation, that revolutions create genius and talents; but those events do no more than bring them forward. There is existing in man, a mass of sense lying in a dormant state, and which, unless something excites it to action, will descend with him, in that condition, to the grave. As it is to the advantage of society that the whole of its faculties should be employed, the construction of government ought to be such as to bring forward, by a quiet and regular operation, all that extent of capacity which never fails to appear in revolutions.” – Thomas Paine, The Rights of Man, Being An Answer to Mr. [Edmund] Burke’s Attack on the French Revolution, 1791
Keith Price, former warden, associate professor at Western Texas A&M University of sociology and criminal justice, tells the New York Times that he thinks prisoners who are burning alive in Texan prisons because the prisons don’t have air conditioning should blame themselves for the inhumane conditions in which they are held captive.
“Since capital, the direct or indirect control of the means of subsistence and production, is the weapon with which this social warfare is carried on, it is clear that all the disadvantages of such a state must fall upon the poor. For him no man has the slightest concern. Cast into the whirlpool, he must struggle through as well as he can. If he is so happy as to find work, i.e., if the bourgeoisie does him the favour to enrich itself by means of him, wages await him which scarcely suffice to keep body and soul together; if he can get no work he may steal, if he is not afraid of the police, or starve, in which case the police will take care that he does so in a quiet and inoffensive manner. During my residence in England, at least twenty or thirty persons have died of simple starvation under the most revolting circumstances, and a jury has rarely been found possessed of the courage to speak the plain truth in the matter. Let the testimony of the witnesses be never so clear and unequivocal, the bourgeoisie, from which the jury is selected, always finds some backdoor through which to escape the frightful verdict, death from starvation. The bourgeoisie dare not speak the truth in these cases, for it would speak its own condemnation. But indirectly, far more than directly, many have died of starvation, where long-continued want of proper nourishment has called forth fatal illness, when it has produced such debility that causes which might otherwise have remained inoperative brought on severe illness and death. The English working-men call this “social murder”, and accuse our whole society of perpetrating this crime perpetually. Are they wrong?” – Friedrich Engels, “The Great Towns”, in Condition of the Working Class in England, September 1844-March1845
They have T.V. shows about people they call “hoarders”. And we have people who call themselves leftists who say people have “too much material wealth” and that they “consume too much”. Yet there are no reality TV shows about the REAL hoarders in society – hoarders with an unfathomably more destructive effect on society. Its a pretty clear example of how far from “reality” these ideologically geared TV shows are. It isn’t just what you say that’s important. Its what you leave out too. And $21 trillion is a pretty big hoard to leave out:
“A global super-rich elite has exploited gaps in cross-border tax rules to hide an extraordinary £13 trillion ($21tn) of wealth offshore – as much as the American and Japanese GDPs put together – according to research commissioned by the campaign group Tax Justice Network.”
“Feminist, trans advocates should support Bradley Manning” by Rainey Reitman, Washington Blade, 23 February 2012.
“From the earliest stages, the Bradley Manning Support Network has sought to honor Manning’s choices. Early in the campaign, we reached out to Manning’s aunt and lawyer and asked what name he preferred we use in our advocacy. They got back to us to say that “Brad” or “Bradley” would be fine.”
“Each one of us working with the Bradley Manning Support Network anxiously awaits the day when Bradley Manning can speak freely, unencumbered by the shackles of oppression and injustice. But until that time, we can’t presume to speak for him, especially on an issue as personal and yet political as gender identification.”
“The Make-Believe World of David Graeber” by Andrew Kliman, 13 April 2012.
“R: Andrew Kliman — The “as if” in Graeber’s statement that “direct action is a matter of acting as if you were already free” means that you’re pretending. You’re not free, but you make believe that you are. You can’t make history “under self-selected circumstances,” but you make believe that you can. I’m all for “refusing to recognise the legitimacy of structures of power. Or even the necessity of them.” But pretending that you’re already free when you’re not isn’t a refusal to recognize their legitimacy or necessity. It’s a refusal to recognize facts.”
A Better World is Probable Responds to Grace Lee Boggs’ call for activists to “turn their back on protest”:
“You Know Who Cares About Women Grunting in Tennis? Sexists.” by Lindy West
“And make no mistake, though male and female tennis players grunt with equal frequency and vigor, the anti-grunting brigade is deeply sexist. Take this Wall Street Journal article, entitled “Confessions of a Tennis Grunter”:
“Grunting is a much bigger deal in women’s tennis. The debate over player noise has come and gone for decades, but it’s especially contentious now, with a pair of imposing grunters ranked No. 1 and 2 in the world-Victoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova. Sharapova’s grunt is a loud, straightforward yelp, but Azarenka’s grunt is something to behold. The first time you hear it, you’re amazed. It screeches and flutters and carries. It sounds as if someone has accidentally stepped on a bird.”
“FASCINATING. The author goes on to concede that, “What’s obvious-and a little hard to justify-is that men generally get a pass on grunting.” Yes. Yes, they do. But if you’re having such a hard time justifying that stupid, sexist double standard of tennis grunting, then why write an entire article dissecting the animalistic grunts of female tennis players? Whyyyyyyyyyy? Can’t we stop? Can’t we just watch the tennis?”
“Lessons of the Comintern experience” by Helen Scott, John Riddell, and Lars T. Lih; at the Historical Materialism conference; video produced by LeftStreamed / the Socialist Project.
“Toronto — 12 May 2012. View on YouTube website.
Helen Scott, University of Vermont – Rebuilding the International: Rosa Luxemburg and the Comintern
John Riddell – The Workers’ Government: Fiction, Pseudonym or Transition
Lars T. Lih – From ‘Party of an Old Type’ to ‘Party of a New Type’
These presentations were made at the Historical Materialism Conference at York University, Toronto, 11-13 May 2012.”
Many liberals show their true colors around things like the healthcare debate. Force people to buy private services? Sure, no problem, they’re fine with that. What if you’re against that? Well, then, you must be a reactionary! Meanwhile, did they stand up for universal healthcare? Nope, that’s too radical. Obama “couldn’t do *EVERYTHING* his first term. Just wait until he gets re-elected, then the ‘real’ Obama will come out.” Can we legalise pot (and drugs generally)? They are divided. Only if we tax cannabis at $800 a pound (I’m not kidding). They won’t even touch the subject of any drug besides cannabis.
If you are a liberal and are siding with extremely regressive taxation (the Obamacare “fines”, $800/lb taxes on cannabis, high taxes on cigarettes and alcohol, consumption taxes (which they pretentiously call “sin taxes”) generally) and state coercion to defend private corporations and control people’s self-determination of their own bodies then you are standing on the wrong side of the line.
We should fight to impose steep taxes on the rich and seize the assets of the health insurance and drug companies. That money can be used build a comprehensive, public, single-payer healthcare system (including things like talk therapy, abortion, contraception, medical marijuana, medicinal psychedelics, sex/gender reassignment surgery & medicine, needle exchange, healthcare for soldiers, etc etc – healthcare for each and every community and medical need). We should force the government to legalise drugs and release all drug prisoners. Individuals with the advice and guidance of doctors can decide what to do with their bodies just fine.
“For Marxists the concrete analysis of the concrete situation is not the opposite of ‘pure’ theory; on the contrary, it is the culmination of all genuine theory, its consummation, the point where it breaks into practice.” - György Lukács, Lenin, A Study on the Unity of His Thought
I cannot recall how many times during discussions I’ve heard the same refrain about unity and divisiveness. It seems that whenever I chart my way into the territory of critically examining sections of the Left I am ultimately faced with accusations of being sectarian. I’m urged to focus on unity and [...]
This piece originally appeared on SocialistWorker.org.
March 8, 2012
GROWING UP in the Hudson Valley under the reign of conservative George W. Bush, Green Party Mayor Jason West stood out as someone who seemed willing to stand up for principle. He violated New York State law when, in his capacity as mayor of New Paltz, N.Y., he married lesbian and gay couples, becoming part of a nationwide debate on marriage equality that continues to this day. In a conservative environment like upstate New York, this was very significant, especially for LGBT youth who suffer from depression and high suicide rates.
When Occupy Wall Street led to a Occupy movement that spread across the country this fall, an encampment was set up in New Paltz, gaining steam from the already strong Occupy Poughkeepsie camp on the other side of the Hudson River.
On December 15, 2011, in response to the birth of Occupy New Paltz, Mayor West wrote: “The [New Paltz Village] Board is…unanimous in our opinion that, given the clear First Amendment protections covering the occupation, we do not have the authority to remove the encampment. By any measure, Occupy New Paltz has the community’s blessing.”
As some people who’ve known me for a few years know, I used to adhere to a social theory called ‘complementary holism‘ or ’liberating theory‘ whose intention, like other radical social theories, is to try and explain oppression and exploitation. I’ve since realised that I agree with Marxism, though until now I’ve yet to publically explain the transition. Though the transition has been in the making for a few years, the realisation came more quickly over the past two. When it finally all came together, that quickly integrated well in my practice, and the wonderful events of 2011 temporarily eclipsed this goal. Now, in the period between the events of an amazing fall and what will – we can hope and work for – be an even better spring and summer, I thought it useful to pause and explain the logic behind the political transition, in case it can be of use to anyone during these exciting and dangerous times. The following is the first article in a series on why I think Marxism is the best theoretical framework for understanding history and capitalist society and, most importantly, for understanding how to overthrow it.
‘Liberating theory’ or ‘complementary holism’, claims a “commit[ment] to understanding and paying serious attention to race, class, gender, sex, sexuality, age, ability, and authority without elevating any but instead recognizing the intrinsic importance of each, and their entwinement, and understanding that we must confront the totality of human oppression”. This quote comes from a statement I wrote for the now defunct ‘new Students for a Democratic Society’ (SDS) for one of its conventions (“A Statement on Totalist Politics”). When I left SDS I helped to found a small socialist cadre group – the Organization for a Free Society, or OFS – with several like-minded individuals, a good portion of which I was a member of SDS with. To this day OFS maintains a statement of principles close in essence (and in wording) to the statement I submitted for conventional approval in SDS. It has two other founding documents which elaborate on these principles.
The statement was written in response to a perceived inadequacy in Marxist thought. In reality – a mix of distain for Stalinism (who supported various tyrants like Saddam Hussein), and a misunderstanding and ignorance of what genuine Marxism is and what it claims.
“Reach for the book hungry one – it is a weapon!” – Bertolt Brecht
For about $24 plus tax / shipping you can get four classic books by Lenin – “State and Revolution”, “What Is to Be Done? Burning Questions of Our Movement”, “Leftwing Communism: An Infantile Disorder”, and “Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism”.
How to do it? Simple, click each of the links below (or which ever of the books you want), and click add to cart (red button, right side, below text). After you’ve added the last one, you should be in your shopping cart (there will be a list of books; if not, click here), and you can click the red “check out” button to pay with Haymarket Books.
Here are the links:
“Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism” (US$5.50)
“State and Revolution” (US$4.95)
“If the Nuremberg laws were applied, then every post-war American president would have been hanged. By violation of the Nuremberg laws I mean the same kind of crimes for which people were hanged in Nuremberg. And Nuremberg means Nuremberg and Tokyo. So first of all you’ve got to think back as to what people were hanged for at Nuremberg and Tokyo. And once you think back, the question doesn’t even require a moment’s waste of time. For example, one general at the Tokyo trials, which were the worst, General Yamashita, was hanged on the grounds that troops in the Philippines, which were technically under his command (though it was so late in the war that he had no contact with them — it was the very end of the war and there were some troops running around the Philippines who he had no contact with), had carried out atrocities, so he was hanged. Well, try that one out and you’ve already wiped out everybody.
“But getting closer to the sort of core of the Nuremberg-Tokyo tribunals, in Truman’s case at the Tokyo tribunal, there was one authentic, independent Asian justice, an Indian, who was also the one person in the court who had any background in international law [Radhabinod Pal], and he dissented from the whole judgment, dissented from the whole thing. He wrote a very interesting and important dissent, seven hundred pages — you can find it in the Harvard Law Library, that’s where I found it, maybe somewhere else, and it’s interesting reading. He goes through the trial record and shows, I think pretty convincingly, it was pretty farcical. He ends up by saying something like this: if there is any crime in the Pacific theater that compares with the crimes of the Nazis, for which they’re being hanged at Nuremberg, it was the dropping of the two atom bombs. And he says nothing of that sort can be attributed to the present accused. Well, that’s a plausible argument, I think, if you look at the background. Truman proceeded to organize a major counter-insurgency campaign in Greece which killed off about one hundred and sixty thousand people, sixty thousand refugees, another sixty thousand or so people tortured, political system dismantled, right-wing regime. American corporations came in and took it over. I think that’s a crime under Nuremberg.
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The Working Class As Vanguard Fighter for Democracy by V. I. Lenin
“…the Social-Democrat [Socialist]’s ideal should not be the trade union secretary, but the tribune of the people, who is able to react to every manifestation of tyranny and oppression, no matter where it appears, no matter what stratum or class of the people it affects; who is able to generalise all these manifestations and produce a single picture of police violence and capitalist exploitation; who is able to take advantage of every event, however small, in order to set forth before all his socialist convictions and his democratic demands, in order to clarify for all and everyone the world-historic significance of the struggle for the emancipation of the proletariat”. - “Trade-Unionist Politics and Social-Democratic[Socialist] Politics: The Working Class As Vanguard Fighter for Democracy” in What Is To Be Done?: Burning Questions of Our Movement by V. I. Lenin
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- Benton Co. Sheriff Deputy Chuck Wells calls Obama “camel dung”, threatens “Make sure your life insurance is paid up”
- End the New Jim Crow! Action Network (ENJAN) – Statement Against the U.S.-Israeli War on Gaza
- Thomas Paine: “There is existing in man, a mass of sense lying in a dormant state”
- Keith Price on why Texas prisoners should burn alive
- Engels on ‘social murder’
- The Real Hoarders in Society
- Links for 26 June 2012
- A Better World is Probable: “In Defense of Struggle: What “Visionary Organizing” Cannot See”
- Links for 4 June 2012
- Healthcare is a human right, not a mandate to buy private services
- Lukács: ‘concrete analysis is not the opposite of ‘pure’ theory’
- Uniting the Front – Division and Unity on the Left
- Links for 14 March 2012
- Links for 11 March 2012
- Links for 10 March 2012
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